One of the must-see places in Poznań is Plac Wolności. This place is especially for the inhabitants of Wielkopolska, but also for Poland. It was here that the Greater Poland Uprising in 1918 began.

The location of the square

Plac Wolności is located practically in the city center. Just a few minutes walk from the Old Market Square along Ignacego Paderewskiego Street. That is why events combining these two places are often organized here (e.g. Bethlehem Poznańskie). In its surroundings there are buildings such as:

  • Hotel Bazar
  • Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu (National Museum in Poznań)
  • Biblioteka Raczyńskich (Raczynski Library)
  • Arkadia
  • Hotel Rzymski
  • and many different tenement houses (where shops and various institutions and companies are located)

It has a rectangular shape with dimensions of 85 by 205 m, its long axis is latitudinally oriented. It is surrounded on three sides by roadways (from the north, east and south). On the southern carriageway there is a single tram track running from east to west. The return track is located at ul. Saint Martin. There is also a bicycle path next to the tram track.

At the time of writing this article at Placu Wolności, ul. 27 Grudnia, Alei Marcinkowskiego and Św. Marcin is undergoing renovation. So the street layout works a bit differently.

Part of Plac Wolności
Part of Plac Wolności

A bit of history

Before the area where Wolności Square is located was incorporated into the city, it was called “Musza Góra”. This name comes from the surname of the owners of this land, i.e. the Muszyński family. This area belonged to them from the 16th century and was located behind the old, moderately windy walls (it bordered on the Settlement of St. Martin).

Plac Wolności  -  old Photo
Plac Wolności – old photography

After the walls were removed, the so-called Upper Town (it was around 1798 – that is already during the Prussian partition). In order for the construction of the square to be possible, the size of the Muszy Góra hill had to be leveled. It can be assumed that they also leveled the surrounding area. Currently, it is almost impossible to see that it is a hill when walking from the side of the Old Market Square. The square was to be of such size that it was possible to develop a full formation of an infantry regiment. The new square was named Wilhelmowski Square (Wilhelmsplatz), which was to commemorate Frederick William III, King of Prussia.

From 1806, during the Napoleonic Wars, the square was named after Napoleon. After the fall of the Duchy of Warsaw, it returned to its previous German name. It lasted until the end of World War I. In April 1919, all German monuments were removed from the square, and in June the square received its current name.

Since its inception to the present day, the layout of the square has changed many times. From more parklike to typically empty square with statues, sculpture and fountain.

Selected buildings located around Plac Wolności

National Museum in Poznań (pl. Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu)

The buildings in the photo on the left with a green and glass roof are the National Museum, this branch deals with the Arts. It hosts various types of exhibitions of paintings and sculptures. If you like old, a bit majestic (fabulous) staircases (and in general) then be sure to visit part of the museum. It makes a really big impression.

Hotel Bazaar

The building on the other side of the fountain with a green roof is Hotel Bazar. This is where Ignacy Paderewski stayed before the outbreak of the Greater Poland Uprising. It was also from it that he delivered his famous speech, which initiated the Greater Poland Uprising. It exploded on December 27, 1918. From that date, the neighboring street takes its name (pol. 27 Grudnia)

Biblioteka Raczyńskich – Raczynski Library

The building with columns on the left belongs to the Raczyński Library. Behind it there is a new library building (in a more modernist style). In the old one, various celebrations are currently taking place (in 2022, its renovation was completed, so if the opportunity arises, it is worth taking a look there).

a new part of the Raczyński library on Aleje Marcinkowskiego (around the corner)
a new part of the Raczyński library on Aleje Marcinkowskiego (around the corner)

A fountain and a sculpture

In the center of the photo we have the Fontanna Wolności (that means Fountain of Liberty). Right next to it, the Hygea well is barely visible (on the left).

Poznan Bethlehem on Plac Wolności
Poznan Bethlehem on Plac Wolności
Fontanna Wolności - Plac Wolności Poznań
Fontanna Wolności – Plac Wolności Poznań
studzienka Hygei (Hygea well) at Plac Wolności
studzienka Hygei (Hygea well) at Plac Wolności
Raczynski Library
Raczynski Library
Plac Wolności

Arkadia building

Arkadia is located on the other side of the square. This building has a very representative form. Originally, it was to serve as a city theater with a hall for about 800 seats. It seems to me that a substitute for theater can be seen in Empik (i.e. one of the shops located in this building). In later periods, there was a restaurant and a casino here.

Arkadia Poznań
Arkadia Poznań as restaurant

Currently, the building, apart from Empik, also houses, among others, the Municipal Publishing House and the City Information. The latter has housed the Fotoplastykon for several years.


Księgarnia św. Wojciecha

At the corner of Plac Wolności and Aleje Marcinkowskiego, there was also a bookshop of śięty Wojciech (eng. St. Adalbert / Wojciech ) selling, among others, books published by St. Wojciech. That is, books and textbooks on religious topics. In its interiors you can also buy devotional items (e.g. carol sets, souvenirs of baptism or first holy communion).

The bookstore has now moved across the street. I think that this is related to the renovation of the Rzymski Hotel and the replacement of the surface of the surrounding streets, which has been going on for several years.

Wilhelmowski plac (Wilhelmsplatz)


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